Power To The Potter People
Today I was driving back from Nonquitt and listened to a couple Harry Potter podcasts, and I was reminded that I have not yet written about the movie! I don’t know why the heck not, but here we go.
Spoilers ahead, but honestly if you haven’t read the books and seen the movies i have no sympathy if you get spoiled.
Let’s start with some things I really appreciate about the movies as a whole body of work before I discuss HP 7.2 specifically. These are in no order whatsoever.
–Ron Weasley’s facial expressions. Every single one.
–the killing of Cedric Diggory, on film. I really love how completely unsentimental this moment is. Voldemort says “kill the spare!” and then there’s an Avada Kedavra, and then his body just crumples. And when Harry gets back to the castle, the way that Cedric’s father comes rushing at the body, the really primal howls from Harry and Amos Diggory, are really just great pieces of acting and so unafraid to really thrust the audience into what is the first real horror of the story.
–Every single thing that Alan Rickman does over the course of these films. If I had to pick just one MVP of the Potter films, it would be Rickman. The way he clips.his.words, his combination of funny and really frightening, is just great. And Rickman acted the hell out of his death scene and his flashbacks in the final film. That was a extraordinary well acted scene. People often diss the Potter films and I think there is a sense that they aren’t serious enough (because they are based on books? based on “children’s” books? fantasy? is it the wizard thing?) but I defy you to find a better performance than Alan Rickman dealing with an incredibly complex backstory and the loss of his one great love and then agreeing to kinda sorta explain that history to a boy he loathes with every ounce of his being while also explaining an incredibly complex and dangerous double game he played for most of his life and knowing that this boy he’s always hated is about to find out that that boy’s mentor/hero asked him to kill him–my god. I got so confused just typing that. Anyway, Rickman’s acting is amazing.
–Come to think of it, all the acting is amazing. Second place MVP goes to Maggie Smith for her portrayal of Minerva McGonegell, a favorite of mine. The professor is a hardass in the best sense of the word: never mean for the hell of it, deeply caring and concerned, not willing to put up with any of your BS. I want to be her when I grow up. And I LOVED her moments in the final movie–she’s always wanted to do that spell! That was adorable! And her duel with Snape. My goodness. I do wish they’d included one of my favorite line from the final book, when she hears Harry is in the Ravenclaw common room and snaps “Potter belongs in MY house!”
–Evanna Lynch’s Luna Lovegood. Evanna–who is featured on the Leaky Cauldron’s LeakyCon 2011 Pottercast discussing HP7.2–is a delightful young woman, a total Potter super fan, and a great actress who brings the perfect mix of lunacy (see what I did there?) and groundedness to one of Rowling’s most iconic characters. (That lion headdress!) I really loved her moment in the final film, t00, when she snapped at Harry to stop moving for a minute and listen to her.
–Neville Longbottom. OK, first, yes, I am happy that he and Luna got together in the final film. As John said on Pottercast, just because Rowling said once that Neville ends up with Hannah Abbott doesn’t mean he didn’t have a fling with Luna, and they are kind of perfect for each other (also on Pottercast: Evanna said she always thought Luna/Dumbledore would be a good match…) I loved him blowing up the bridge. I loved watching him go from a dorky little boy in the first movie to the boy who chops of Nagini’s head in the last movie. I have a lot of respect for our buddy Neville.
–Dumbledore, but I much prefer the Richard Harris version of the first two films to the Michael Gambon version of the last six. That said, Gambon did a good job, and OK, yes, I sniffled my way through the King’s Cross scene. (“Harry, you brave boy, you wonderful man…”)
–The casting of the Trio. My god was that a brilliant job. I don’t think anyone, including the first director, Chris Columbus, could have predicted how well Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe would turn out. Compare their “acting” (mostly just them being 11) in the first movie to their acting in the last. Particularly Daniel Radcliffe, who took one of one of the most iconic and beloved characters of our generation and made Harry his own. Radcliffe REALLY has grown as an actor. All it takes is a look at his work in this latest film to prove that. Grint and Watson, though, have also been fantastic. I’ve really enjoyed watching them both. I want to really single out Watson here, since I opened with Grint’s marvelous ability to make his face do funny things. Watson has made Hermione go from somewhat annoying to a tremendously competent young woman who I admire. And now I’ll point you to this quote from Rowling about Hermione, who is a personal hero of mine:
“I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls.”
So. Yeah. Hermione, you rock.
–I really appreciated that the movies didn’t try to explain all the mythology from the books. One of the complaints I’ve heard about the movies is that they don’t do this, but honestly, if you are seeing the HP movies and you haven’t read the books, you’ve got no one but yourself to blame if you don’t understand something. Read.the.books.
–Helena Bonham Carter should get a special mention for her brave performance as Bellatrix Lestrange The Fabulously Named. Her insanity and evilness and weird love of Voldemort is truly something to behold.
–All of the supporting cast/characters. There really is not a dud, character or actor wise. Every actor hits virtually every note perfectly, from Jim Broadbent as Slughorn to Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid to even REALLY minor characters, like Bill Nighy as the Minister of Magic at the beginning of HP7.1. They were…great. Seriously. Any British actor who never landed a role in any of the HP films should consider another career.
–The Weasley twins. (and yes, I cried during the final movie when those asshole filmmakers had George say “OK, Freddie?” Were you TRYING TO DESTROY US?) In an episode of Reasonable Discussions, one of the AV Club folks (I think it was Genevieve) pointed out that Fred and George aren’t even really afraid of Voldemort–it’s like they made a very deliberate choice to react to a really frightening world with humor rather than fear. I’d call that a brave choice, and a helpful one. I also think that they are not overused in either the books or the films–they appear in both just enough to be marvelous comic relief, as well as adding a few moments of utter devastation for the reader.
–Sirius dying. Another unflinching look at a character’s death, and again, Radcliffe acts the hell out of this scene. Seriously. His grief is hard to watch. And the way Lupin grabs and holds him gets me every damn time. Also, the moment before that when Sirius tells Harry he’s done beautifully, and then Sirius confuses Harry with James, and then Harry loses his father figure, and then Bellatrix starts her crazed “I killed Sirius Black!” chant…that scene is a killer.
–“NOT MY DAUGHTER YOU BITCH!”
–That really heartbreaking moment when Hermione wipes her parent’s memories at the beginning of HP7.1.
Oh my goodness. OK. I will be adding to this list, but let’s get one thing clear: the midnight showing at the Uptown was terrific. It was just…the way that everyone laughed when Emma Watson pretended to be Hermione pretending to be Bellatrix Lestrange, the strangled sobs during deaths, the gasps when Fred showed up (everyone knew he wouldn’t last long!) the huge cheer when Ron and Hermione kiss..the communal experience was just extraordinary. It made the movie so much better to have everyone laughing and crying right along with me, and of course I loved chatting about HP beforehand with everyone!